Turkish court acquits doctor of sexually assaulting nurse for 'inconclusive evidence'

A Turkish court on Jan. 26 acquitted doctor S.E. on trial for sexually assaulting a nurse working in the same public hospital in Istanbul, citing inconclusive evidence. Women’s organizations protested the ruling, noting the difficulty of obtaining proof in such cases. 

Protesters' banner reads, "Assault is a crime, it cannot be justified."

Ferhat Yaşar / Gazete Duvar

A Turkish court on Jan. 26 ruled to acquit doctor S.E. who was on trial for sexually assaulting a nurse at the same hospital, stating the evidence was inconclusive. 

S.E. was detained on March 11 upon the criminal complaint by N.Z. He was accused of sexual assault with a prison sentence of up to 12 years. The defendant had refused the accusation and claimed that he and the nurse had been “flirting” for the past three months. 

The doctor was laid off after the criminal complaint, and nurse N.Z. was relocated to another public hospital in Istanbul. Turkey’s Family and Social Services Ministry joined the case. 

Nurse H.Z. explained that she incurred serious psychological damage after the assault in her deposition. “I could not defend myself back then, so I leave justice in your hands now,” said H.Z. 

Lawyer Feyza Altun maintained that the doctor harassed other nurses at the hospital, abusing his hierarchical advantage over them. She added that evidence collection was difficult for N.Z., due to the nature of the crime. Altun held that sentencing S.E. would set a precedent in future sexual assault cases. 

The women’s and trade organizations at the hearing left the courtroom with claps and slogans upon hearing the ruling. In a press statement, lawyer Altun described the ruling as a “disgrace.” “This decision affirms that no woman in Turkey is protected from men’s sexual violence,” said Altun.

Trade organizations protest the ruling in front of the Bakırköy courthouse

The lawyer emphasized that the defendant had previously accepted his offense and that they had debunked the doctor’s romantic involvement claims. “If the court can still acquit him for inconclusive evidence, then Turkish courts are telling men to rape, harrass freely,” said Altun. 

She added that they were ready to pursue all appeal routes, and would not give up the joint struggle of women. 

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)